The Jobless Career Girl: Tips to Survive Unemployment Over the Holiday Season
Tis the season for baking, good tidings and cheer, family and friends. For some of us, tis also the season where we get some terrible news: you lost your job.
It’s a popular time of year for layoffs — the fiscal year is ending, job descriptions are being eliminated and consolidated in an effort to make things more cost-effective. Unfortunately, it’s also around the holidays, which can be hard when you just found out that your position has been terminated.
I’ve talked to about a dozen people in the past month who have gotten the notice, myself included. If you have also joined or may join the ranks of the jobless this holiday season (or ever, really), here are some tips to keep your sanity alive and well:
- Whatever you do, don’t panic. This is so much easier said than done. “Danielle,” you say, “You may be able to say that, but you don’t know my situation!” I still want to tell you that you’re wrong. The times of panic are the least productive. When you are taken over by fear and worry, you can’t think clearly enough to make a game plan. Remain calm and you will be able to build a coherent plan you feel good about.
- Now make that plan! Call the companies you pay bills to every month. Some of them may not be able to help you, but some can! I was able to get a credit card and a car payment suspended because of hardship, which helped a lot. Even if they can’t help you, it shows that you are a good customer and don’t want to fall behind unnecessarily.
- Figure out your benefits situation. Not everyone is eligible for unemployment benefits (I found this out the hard way!) Figure out your eligibility and then plan your job search from there. Do you need cash FAST because you may not be getting much or any UI? Then start looking at part-time gigs — remember that seasonal jobs are HUGE this time of year. Can you rest on severance or UI for a bit? Start looking for that next great career move for you. Whatever it is, don’t apply for every job all at once (again, speaking from experience). You will end up having that moment of clarity and realizing that you don’t WANT all of those jobs. If you can afford to make the decision, make it a great, well-researched one.
- There is no time for regret. I often get asked if I regret leaving my cushy corporate-style job to try out new things, only to be laid off five months later. Not at all. I was ready for a new adventure…and I guess I got it. Since being laid off, I’ve realized that I love working with local startups and I really enjoy freelancing. I have gotten to really put my entrepreneurial spirit to good use. Sometimes we need that push, so don’t shut yourself off with “shoulda, woulda, coulda.” Open yourself up to learning something new about yourself — you may be even happier in the next phase of your life!
- Shut out the haters/lean on your loved ones. Election years are especially loathsome times to be laid off, because everyone has an opinion about how it all works. Understand that people who say negative things about “lazy, jobless punks,” are often speaking out of fear. No one is irreplaceable and no one is protected from unemployment. Don’t listen to this fear — it will only play into your own. Instead, find your people and love them and let them love you. I’ve had to learn more this season about letting others take care of me than I’ve ever known in my life. Several of my friends became unemployed around the same time, so we try to get together once a week for “Unemployment Club,” where we sit in the park, watch a movie, have a BBQ — something inexpensive that gets us out of our houses and allows us to breathe and have perspective for a bit.
An old college friend of mine was laid off recently and said to me in a panic that she didn’t know what to do from here. These are common feelings — don’t let them consume you. I reminded her of her power and strength and told her that we would make it through this time together. Remember, there is an end to this tunnel, however dark and strange it may seem. When you come out on the other end (and you will), don’t forget what you learned in the darkness. Use that knowledge to help you improve the state of your life overall. You are more than your job.